VILONIA — Support organizations, such as PTOs, PTAs and band boosters, working with the Vilonia School District are subject to some new guidelines, including providing monthly bank statements.
The Board of Education adopted a policy Monday night that calls for "providing formal recognition" of groups and organizations that work with the school as well as stipulating rules and regulations including that they should provide monthly financial statements.
"Some organizations won’t want to provide this to us, but it will be in our best interest," Dr. Frank Mitchell, school superintendent told the board, explaining his recommendation to pass the policy.
Mitchell shared information concerning a situation where school officials had no knowledge about a bank account bearing the district’s name. While there was no wrong doing in that situation, Mitchell said, that might not always be the scenario.
"The idea is that if money is being raised for the school, we need to know about it," Mitchell said.
Recommending the adoption of the policy, Mitchell said, "We just have had some situations where we need a little understanding."
Organizations are also required to maintain an open membership and set by laws, have fundraising projects approved as well as secure approval before donations are made and give ownership of donated items to the district.
Also, the school will require the organization to have a minimum of two members as signers on all checks and a minimum of two people counting funds at activities.
In turn, Mitchell said the school district will be very supportive of the organization and provide a meeting place as well as work cooperatively to "held the organization to help us."
"Our intent is not to cause them a problem," Mitchell said. "We appreciate them."
Commenting on the matter, board member Randy Sanders said such a policy should have already been in place.
"It’s not asking too much," Sanders said.
On another note, a public meeting concerning school facilities planning was held in conjunction with the board meeting. Dr. David Bangs, technology coordinator for the district, presented an overview of a 10-year master plan to include fire alarm replacement district wide with a total cost of $93,000, site acquisition for a new high school at a total cost of $300,000 and building a new high school costing a total of $18,000,000 and demolition of older buildings at a cost of $62,000.
During the presentation, Bangs said, the plan shows "where we’ve been and the direction we are headed with the facilities."
The deadline for submitting the proposal to the Arkansas Division of Public Schools is Feb. 1, Bangs said.
The state, earlier, approved a request from the district agreeing to provide $9 million toward the building of a high school. Due to district’s portion amounting to about $11 million, however, the board declined the funding saying they did not want to ask the public for a millage increase during poor economic times.
After a lengthy review Monday night, the board approved a resolution to move forward with the current plan and again ask for funding. If approved by the state, Bangs said they will pay 70 percent of the cost of the proposed projects.
"We are responsible for anything we build over 77,000 square feet," Bangs said.
During the public meeting, school officials remarked more than once that they wished they had a crystal ball in order to see the future growth. While the growth is anticipated to continue in the high school area, officials said the growth could unexpectedly shift to other grade levels. Currently, the population of 10-12 is at 654 students. Last year, the high school had 680 students. The elementary also stands at 654 students.
At one point, school board member Mike West commented that he wished "we could just put in for a school. We know we are going to have to have a new school, we just don’t know which one."
Discussion also centered around the demolition of the older buildings, which officials said, would add to the overcrowding problems. It was said that, if the plan is approved, the district will have a year or so after the completion of the high school before the demolition will take place.
Several times during discussion, Bangs told the board even if the plan is submitted, it is possible to make some changes or rescind as they did this summer.
"This is probably about the best we can do based on the actual information we have," Mitchell said.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the purchase of computer anti-virus protection (Sophos Endpoint Security) for three years (plus a free year) at $39,969.60.
• Approved the purchase of additional licensing for Reading Plus software at $13,890. It was said the additional licenses will allow 28 students to access the program at one time.
• Approved the renewal of the school board legal liability policy with ACE American Insurance Company at a cost of $6,575.
Teacher Chere’ Beavers presented a report on the Gifted and Talented program. The district is currently serving 211 "identified" students.
Beavers cited a state newspaper article where it was written, "the nation’s education system has neglected the needs of our high-potential students." The article also said that the "overall picture in Arkansas is far more positive than in the nation yet more work remains to ensure our high potential students receive the support they need to succeed." Beavers said this is not true of the Vilonia District.
"Here at Vilonia, we don’t lack for support for out students at the top," Beavers said. "Our state also has been supportive of our top students."
She concluded by saying school officials will be developing an acceleration policy for the district. It’s currently in the information and confirmation stage, she added.